Cyclist.ie wishes Eamon Ryan TD, the new Minister for Climate Action, Communication Networks and Transport, the very best in his new role.

Eamon Ryan

Minister Ryan’s appointment comes on the back of the inclusion of some very progressive sustainable transport commitments in the agreed Programme for Government (PfG), especially in regard to cycling and walking. On funding, the new government has committed to:

… an allocation of 10% of the total transport capital budget for cycling projects and an allocation of 10% of the total capital budget for pedestrian infrastructure. The Government’s commitment to cycling and pedestrian projects will be set at 20% of the 2020 capital budget (€360 million) per year for the lifetime of the Government. (p13)

This is potentially game-changing when one considers that the spend on cycling in 2018 was just €12.64 million (or less than 2% of the transport budget) – see Cyclist.ie Pre-Budget Submission 2020. It opens up the feasibility of funding high quality cycling infrastructure in all of our cities and towns, and providing greenway infrastructure connecting into the heart of our built-up areas, and schools, sports grounds, shops and other destinations.

The new emphasis on cycling and walking in the PfG comes at a time when the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport (DTTAS) – as it was called up until a few days ago – is preparing a new Sustainable Mobility Policy (SMP). Cyclist.ie responded to the public consultation on the SMP early in 2020 – see Submissions on New Sustainable Mobility Policy – and we are awaiting the Department’s analysis of the submissions received. It is timely for a new Minister with a low carbon vision of mobility to take office when a new plan is being drafted.

The other point to highlight is the need for the new Minister to create the structures to enable several government departments, a handful of state agencies, and all 31 local authorities (LAs) to be aligned in their policies around walking and cycling promotion. One of the failings in the implementation of the ambitious 2009 National Cycle Policy Framework (NCPF) was the inaction on ensuring good coordination and cooperation between all bodies.

It is essential that Minister Ryan makes sure there is strong alignment between the key departments of Health (Minister Stephen Donnelly), Housing, Local Government and Heritage (Minister Darragh O’Brien), Education (Minister Norma Foley), Social Protection, Community and Rural Development and the Islands (Minister Heather Humphreys), and Children, Disability, Equality and Integration (Minister Roderic O’Gorman) so that a new culture of active travel can emerge, and become part of everyday life in Ireland. Additionally, local authorities are crucial actors because they will be responsible for so much of the change, but their expertise on cycling development varies from strong to weak.

The changes are already underway with COVID-19 prompting local authorities to reallocate space for people on foot and bikes – see for example Dublin City Covid Mobility Programme. This process is being facilitated by funding from the National Transport Authority and by an update to DMURS (the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets) entitled Interim Advice Note COVID-19 Pandemic Response.

The opportunity to be seized by the Minister now is to harness the public appetite for change and lead the way in transforming our cities and towns into the healthy, convivial and economically vibrant places they need to be.

We wish the Minister the very best of luck.

(This article previously appeared on the Cyclist.ie website.)

PRESS RELEASE Cyclist.ie Welcomes the Programme for Government Commitment to Active Travel

Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, has been calling for a revolution in the funding of cycling and walking for many years. We are seeking a 10% allocation for cycling from our government’s transport budgets.

We are delighted to see that the initial figures emerging from the government formation talks appear to have recognised this urgent need to invest in ‘active travel’ (walking and cycling) by allocating €360 million per annum towards cycling and walking schemes [1]. Cyclist.ie welcomes this commitment.

Cyclist.ie has consistently highlighted the multiple benefits of investing in cycling – across economic, societal and environmental headings. On the public health side, regular cycling for everyday journeys builds exercise into our busy lives and it can be easier to maintain compared to recreational physical activity. Economically, each kilometre driven by a car incurs an external cost of €0.11, whereas cycling and walking bring benefits of €0.18 and €0.37 per kilometre, respectively (see New study reveals the social benefits of cycling and walking in the EU). On the emissions reduction front and responding to the Paris Climate Agreement, cycling and walking are an essential part of the solution in decarbonising our mobility system and hence are a critical part of the overall transport mix. This has been recognised in many progressive countries in North West Europe since the mid 1970s.

It is estimated that spending on cycling currently amounts to less than 2% of transport capital spending, as shown in Cyclist.ie’s 2020 Budget submission. Meanwhile the Third Report and Recommendations of the Citizens’ Assembly, the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action [https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/committee/dail/32/joint_committee_on_climate_action/reports/2019/2019-03-28_report-climate-change-a-cross-party-consensus-for-action_en.pdf] and the 2019 Climate Action Plan all endorsed the spending of 10% of the transport budget on cycling.

Our expectations are that this funding will be spent on high quality cycling infrastructure in our towns and cities so that we can grow cycling to levels common in many continental countries. We also urgently need to redress the gender balance in cycling (currently only 27% of all persons commuting are female, as per Census 2016 data). As Dr. Damien Ó Tuama, National Cycling Coordinator with Cyclist.ie summed it up, “we need to renormalise cycling to the shops, to school, to work and for other daily activities”.



Kissing Gates – Time to Kiss Them Goodbye

Since the lockdown in mid-March, one of the key messages from government has been the need for social distancing.  People were advised to keep a minimum of 2m away from others. The #ChangeOurStreet campaign started in reaction to lack of space for walking and cycling in many of our urban areas. With good weather and time on their hands, there has been a huge increase in the number of people walking and cycling.

Photo 1: Kissing Gate at Killmacreddock, near Leixlip

In north Kildare, people are drawn to the the Royal Canal Greenway to exercise. However, kissing gates control access to the greenway at a number of locations. A kissing gate consists of a semi-circular, square or V-shaped enclosure on one side and a hinged gate that swings between two shutting posts, it allows one person at a time to pass through but keeps livestock out. The name derives from the fact that the hinged part touches – or ‘kisses’ – both sides of the enclosure rather than being securely latched like a normal gate. That hasn’t stopped many clinging to a more romantic notion: that the first person to pass through would have to close the gate to the next person, providing an opportune moment to demand a kiss in return for entry.

 

Photo 2: New Kissing Gate at Dodder Greenway, Firhouse Road, Tallaght 

Whatever the origin of the name, kissing gates are not in accordance with Rural Cycleway Design, the Irish design standard. They prevent or make passage difficult for many cyclists  with non-standard bikes such as  tag-alongs, trishaws, cargo bikes and bikes with panniers from accessing greenways and parks. However, this has not prevented local authorities or Waterways Ireland from approving their use.

In the post-Corona world, they are a cause for concern as kissing gates cannot be used without moving the gate by hand. As a result, one infected person could spread the virus to several hundred. It is regrettable that in the past local authorities including Kildare County Council installed such features. It is even worse that in recent days South Dublin County Council has installed one at the entrance to the Dodder Greenway in Tallaght.  It gave the excuse that there was a  need to stop scrambler motor bikes and that the decision was taken earlier in the year. You would think that someone in local authorities would assess the risk from kissing gates, kiss them goodbye and install bollards in their place.

 

Press Release – Provide Safe Space for Pedestrians and Cyclists during the Current Crisis

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie call on the national government to provide safe, usable space across the country for people to shop, exercise and commute by walking and cycling during the Covid-19 crisis as a matter of urgency.

While current lock-down restrictions are in place until May 5th, the Minister for Health Simon Harris has stated that social distancing measures may stay in place to some degree until a coronavirus vaccine has been found. A substantial percentage of Irish people shop on foot or by cycling, and physical exercise is vitally important to both physical and mental health.

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie propose that while motor traffic is reduced, space on streets must be reallocated to walking, running, cycling and playing to ensure safe social distancing within communities – a reallocation that is already taking place internationally.

Speaking for the Irish Pedestrian Network Ailish Drake says, “The New Zealand government has empowered local communities to create more social distancing space by providing 90% funding for new footpaths and widen existing ones, and to create pop-up bike lanes. These measures can be put in place in a matter of hours or a few days using paint, blocks or planters.”

Damien Ó Tuama spokesperson for Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, says,
“Over sixty towns and cities worldwide, in recognition of this new reality, have quickly installed low-cost temporary measures by using cones to widen footpaths and repurposing full vehicle lanes to cycle lanes. Dublin has now joined Berlin, Washington DC and London in reallocating road space to ensure safer social distancing is possible. We want other councils to do the same.”

The Irish Pedestrian Network and Cyclist.ie welcome efforts by many local Councillors and TDs in seeking additional space for social distancing across Irish cities and in particular the progress made in Dublin where Dublin City Council will begin implementing emergency distancing measures from Monday 20th April.

The IPN and Cyclist.ie now call on the government to implement a nationwide program as follows:

      1.   Make social distancing easier for those walking or cycling to shops or essential work
       2.   Automated pedestrian crossings so people do not have to manually press signal buttons.
       3.   Introduction of a default speed limit of 30km/h on all urban and suburban streets
       4.   A proportionate reallocation of road space to pedestrians and cyclists, to make walking and cycling safer for those who are exercising within their 2km zone, especially those with prams or wheelchairs
       5.   Local authorities to prioritise temporary widening of footpaths, pop-up cycle lanes, quietways in cities and/or closing road lanes and specific streets to motor traffic (for example: by the temporary application of DMURS standards to existing streets)
       6.   New space to be allocated fairly and with consideration of universal needs across city centre, suburbs, towns and villages to avoid people ‘flocking’ to centralised areas
       7.   Dedicated teams in each local authority to enable local residents and interested groups to plan and design temporary footpaths and cycle lanes in their locality
       8.   Rapid implementation of said routes with a design strategy to clearly indicate new routes to users and motorists.

Orla Burke, spokesperson for Pedestrian Cork explains, “Families in Cork, denied the opportunity to drive to their favourite walking spots, are coming face-to-face with the poor provision for walking in their immediate neighbourhoods. Quick wins are available to our councils but this requires thoughtful leadership. This could be a time for simple yet effective improvements to facilitate walking. We call on our local authorities to rise to the challenge of Covid-19 make our streets safe for all.”

Anne Cronin of Cycle Bus Limerick added, “For children that live in the city or suburbs, jumping on their bike with a parent, is their only way to connect with a space outside of their home. Many children are forced to cycle on the road as opposed to the footpath and therefore are at risk without segregation. The increase in the numbers of children cycling in our city is remarkable at the moment and children should be protected and supported to remain doing so.”

Ailish Drake added that “these temporary actions in response to the Covid-19 emergency, would be strategic in creating a positive culture change to make our towns and cities more liveable and contributing to a much needed boost in footfall required to aid the economic recovery when we move beyond the current crisis. This is in line with current government policy for both urban and rural regeneration development funds (URDF & RRDF).”

END


The Irish Pedestrian Network is a national advocacy group working to deliver a public realm that is inclusive and ambitious for all. The Network has rapidly grown since its foundation in 2019, and now has affiliated groups in Dublin, Limerick and Cork. Twitter @IrishPedestrian

Maynooth Cycling Campaign is a member of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network.

 

Is it Time to Support Health Services People by Reducing Speed Limits

Professor John Crown has called for lowered speed limits during this COVID-19 emergency via social media (Twitter, Mar 20). On behalf of people who walk and cycle every day, we back him 100%. As he said, soon our Emergency Departments will likely be busy enough.

Frontline healthcare professionals have to self-isolate outside of work, both to protect themselves and us. Many are choosing alternatives to public transport to get to and from work. Cycling provides social distancing, daily exercise, and mental health benefits; all of which our doctors, nurses, carers, porters, and cleaners need.

Empty streets mean people are staying home. But we are deeply concerned by countrywide reports of people driving faster and ignoring speed limits. They are putting people walking and cycling at risk of being patients in our EDs.

The research is stark: collisions at 50km/h are five times more likely to be fatal than at 30km/h.

As Prof Crown says, we need lower speed limits, now.

Party Rankings on Cycling Policies – Check Them Out!

We are urging all cyclists to get out and vote on Saturday for the

political parties that have promised to make a difference for everyday

cyclists. Check out our comparative ratings of the political party

manifestos above, and think about how you cast your vote! These

ratings are based simply on what the various parties have outlined in

their manifestos in relation to proposed investment and policies to

grow cycling in Ireland. **YOU BIKE – YOU VOTE!**

Matrix

Cyclist.ie – Political Asks in GE2020

(This article was previously published in GreenNews.ie in a series under the heading of  “What the experts want from GE 2020 “. In this case the expert is Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, which is represented by Martina Callanan of the Galway Cycling Campaign.)

Over the past three weeks, as in all election cycles, we have become accustomed to the knock at the door from canvassers or candidates themselves are they vie for our number one at the ballot box.

We have asked leading climate and biodiversity experts to tell us the key policy asks that they have raised with candidates when they come a-knocking.

Next up is Martina Callanan who represents Galway Cycling Campaign on the executive council of Cyclist.ie, the Irish Cycling Advocacy Network, whose vision is for cycling to become a normal part of transport and everyday life in Ireland.

The network sees cycling as a vital part of building healthier and less polluted communities, and has developed 10 election asks that it Martina has boiled down to three kernel points below.

Make cycling a normal everyday activity

Cycling is a critical part of the transport equation in combating Climate Change. We need everyday cycling to be better and safer, more convenient, and easier. Hopping on your bike should be a more attractive option for the so-called first-mile and last-mile journeys.

No more slashing of funding or paltry rises: major investment is needed to shift people away from car dependency, especially for short journeys under 5km. This means greater investment in cycling infrastructure and promotion.

We need our next Government to allocate a minimum 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling immediately as promised under the National Climate Action Plan. Currently, cycling is allocated a tiny two per cent of our transport spend.

We do not need to reinvent the wheel. Bike safety is highest in countries and cities where bike use is high and people cycling have interconnected networks of segregated routes such as in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Bristol and Manchester in the UK.

It’s as easy as ABC: Allocate 10 per cent of transport funding to cycling; Build safer infrastructure, and everyone will cycle more.

Build safe segregated networks

Manifestos that mention school cycle buses should make us weep with rage. There should be no need for parents and adults to marshal kids to school on bikes, forming human shields between small soft bodies and big, motorised, metal boxes. Cycle buses must not become the norm.

What we need are safe routes to schools and throughout populated areas: networks of segregated cycle paths along roads; safe junction design with priority signalling for people on bikes; and quiet routes through permeable neighbourhoods. Let’s get designing and building!

Increasing cycling numbers in Ireland will cut congestion, improve public health, and reduce pollution. To get more people cycling, we need to make it an easier and safer choice. Let’s have real cycle networks, safe school routes, and coordinated planning, policy and policing that protects us.

Design fit-for-purpose planning, policy and policing system

The 3 Ps of Planning, Policy and Policing seem a little dry at first glance – but these are the actions that make the good things happen.

Planning – Building safer cycling infrastructure should be guided by our National Cycle Manual. This design guidance needs urgent updating to upgrade our standards and bring us into line with best international practice.

Policy – We need joined-up thinking for everyday cycling across a myriad of Departments – Transport, Health, Environment, Housing, Education, and Justice. We need a resourced National Cycling Office, preferably within the Department of Transport to coordinate policy and ensure action.

Policing – We have road traffic legislation that considers people who cycle and walk, but enforcement needs greater priority. People who cycle are frustrated and frightened by illegal parking in cycle lanes and dangerous overtaking.

Minister’s statement at COP 25 was a missed opportunity to show Ireland is ready to take leadership

Stop Climate Chaos Coalition – Press Statement
Immediate release 11th December 2019

The Stop Climate Chaos coalition has today (December 11th) said that the Minister’s national statement at COP 25 this morning, was a missed opportunity to show that Ireland is ready to take leadership to avert climate breakdown. The Minister participated in the high level segment, where Heads of State and Government make national statements on increasing their targets.

Earlier this week, Stop Climate Chaos wrote to the Minister in advance urging the Government to align Ireland with other EU member states calling for an increase of the EU’s 2030 target to at least 55%, and for Ireland to urge the European Commission to advance a proposal to increase the EU NDC target (in line with the science and the EU’s fair share of the global effort) in the first 100 days in office.

Catherine Devitt, Head of Policy with the Stop Climate Chaos coalition commented,

“2020 marks the beginning of a decade in which global emissions must reduce by 55% before 2030 if the 1.5oC limit in the Paris Agreement is to remain at all feasible. We need bold political leadership now more so than ever, and this needs to be matched with bold commitments that will drive deep and sustained emissions reductions over the next decade. Therefore, it’s deeply disappointing to hear nothing new from Minister Bruton’s contribution at COP25.”

“Ramping up emissions cuts before 2030 is in line with the commitments made by Ireland at COP 21 in 2015, and a higher target will increase the chances of reaching global net zero emissions well before 2050. The longer we delay, the costlier and sharper the social and economic adjustment will be. It is disappointing that the Minister did not use the opportunity at COP 25 in front of the global community, to explicitly express Ireland’s support for a higher EU 2030 of at least 55%, and to put pressure on the Commission to urgently increase 2030 ambition in line with the science and the EU’s fair share of the global effort.”

“We very much welcome the Minister’s commitment to enshrine net zero by 2050 into law. 2020 will be a crucial year for the climate, as will be the next decade. If this Government is now serious about stepping up to the challenge, we need to see the new draft Climate Law before Cabinet before Christmas and the new law being passed without delay in 2020.”

In reaction to the Minister’s national statement in Madrid, Christian Aid’s Policy and Advocacy adviser, Jennifer Higgins, said,

“We need the enthusiasm in Minister Bruton’s speech to translate into concrete and ambitious climate action. We’ve learnt nothing new in terms of Ireland’s planned response to the climate crisis, and the existing climate action plan still places Ireland as a low performer on climate action in the EU.”

“Ireland needs to be doing far more than doubling our contribution to the Green Climate Fund if we are to fairly contribute to efforts to prevent catastrophic climate breakdown. Ireland’s overall annual climate finance contributions will need to increase six-fold if we are to meaningfully support developing countries, who on the frontline of the climate emergency, to cut their emissions and adapt to the worsening impacts of climate change.”

Later this month, Ireland is required to submit to the EU its national energy and climate plan for the coming decade. Stop Climate Chaos has called on the Government to use this opportunity to close Ireland’s glaring emissions gap, to drive sustained and deep emissions reductions, and pave the way for Ireland to move from laggard to leader at European level.

Ends